Lu Lac Edition #2 May 12th, 2006
NEWS OF THE DAY...................Fred Belardi, candidate for Representative in the 112th District came out of hiding this morning and appeared on the Nancy and Kevin Show on WILK News Radio. Belardi defended his record of 28 years in office, said he voted for the pay raise, kept it, then voted to recind the payraise. According to his logic, the payraise is not an issue because it was recinded by the Legislature. Belardi said that the northeast delegation was very strong in bringing home economic development to its constituents and that the reason he stood for another term was because he was not one to cut and run. When Belardi was asked if he'd debate primary foe Ken Smith, he gave a non answer that would rival John Kerry's statement of 2004 when asked if he voted for the Iraq war resolution, "I voted for it, then against it". Belardi said that debating Smith would not be a smart strategy because his foe would tell mistruths about his record and that he had previous commitments to voters who he gave grants to in the past like Little Leagues and Fire companies. Belardi's phone call, while gutsy and somewhat articulate, made the big news saying that the payraise was no longer an issue.
In the meantime, the other issue cropping up is the new voting machines and the demomstrations of them to the voters. Representative John Yudichak sent out a media release telling voters to "come on down" to his office and check the new hardware out. A few people felt that having a voting machine in an office where the candidate had a vested interest was not kosher and said so. Yudichak's fall competitor, Ed Syzmanski stopped down the office to chat with the voters, check out the new machines and intimated that he may file a complaint with the election board on this matter.
Up in Scranton, Hugh Gallagher, the head of the Richmond, Va. based company that provided the new machines to Lackawanna County voters was upset with the party chairmen, Democrat Jerry Notariani and Republican Paul Catalano. Both men said they were unavailable to meet and take art in the emonstration. Notariani said he was working and Catalano said he had extreme confidence in the Voter Registration office in the county.
Much has been made about whether or not the payraise would bring changes to Harrisburg. A few political observers feel that many of the incumbents will be returned to office even though they had primary opposition. The fact is more than 25 legislators are not running again. At best, there will be a realignment in the Capitol because there will be new faces. If there is a change in some leadership posts, you'll see some backbenchers move up as others move out. So even though it is unlikely many veteran legislators will be given their walking papers, there are enough new faces to make some changes there in Harrisburg.
COMMENTARIES.......... In the interest of full disclosure I fired off a letter to the Editor when I heard that Fred Belardi would not debate Ken Smith in the 112th race. I was very irate and not sure if the Times printed it or not. One part of me was impressed today by Belardi's articulation and justification for voting, keeping and recinding the payraise. The other part of me was surprised at how he wouldn't debate an oponenent when at times he could be very persuasive........Paul Catalano's, the head of the Scranton Republican committee's statements on the new voting machines and his no show appearance were a joke too. They honored Catalano this year for his service to the party. This is the same guy that did not field a candidate for Mayor in Scranton last year and let the Doherty-DeBileo race happen where two Democrats squared off in the General Election. As long as the party keeps leaders like Catalano, it will struggle.
MEDIA WATCH.....................................Caught the debate for Pensylvania Lt. Governor on the Democratic side recently on PCN. WNEP TV hosated the debate, anchor Mike Lewis did a good job of moderating it. Katherine Baker Knoll was not there............The WILK news network was loaded with candidates today on both the Morning News and Sue Henry show. It will be interesting to see the impact Talk Radio has on the election. Are voters swayed by candidates who talk to the talkies or is it just background noise? The best test case for this will be the State Senate race in the 20th district. Mayor Jim Haggerty of Kingston has been utilizing the radio station as a back up to his paid media while front runner Lisa Baker has lifted nary a tapered fingernail to call in to the radio outlet. If Haggerty does well explaining his message, then we could really gauge the powerful effect of NewsTalk Radio...................Very surprised that Eddie Day Pashinski garnered the endorsement of the Times Leader editorial board for the 121rst district. Said he was the candidate with the least baggage.
HOT RACES TO WATCH..............The race to succeed Gaynor Cawley in the 113th district is proving to be interesting. This race has a tier system of candidates. The first tier is Janet Evans, Scranton School Board member, Frank Andrews Shimkus, former WYOU TV anchor, John O'Boyle, Harrisburg lobbyist and Casey confidant and former Scranton council member Kevin Murphy. That's Tier 1. Tier 2 is Bill Courtright, Jim Williams and Matthew Burke. Andrews Shimkus has the TV name recognition, O'Boyle has the suppoirt of the Casey old line Democratic political establishment and incidentally is the only candidate in his ads to say he is succeeding Cawley, Evans has a neighborhood and education constituency that will serve her well and Murphy, who barely lost his race for Scranton council last time has the support of the old McNulty machine. One of the top tier four will win this in a squeaker.
The race to suceed Kevin Blaum is interesting too. Except that look for the geography of the city of Wilkes Barre to come into play. Brian O'Donnell can count on the heavily populated Democratic wards in South Wilkes Barre while Clerk of Courts in the County Bob Reilly has the Heights section of the city as a bastion of support. Plus Reilly has a residue of union support from his late father's associations and Reilly's own Labor backed campaigns. Jim Hayward is from North end and Eddie Day Pashinski is counting on his past career as an educator and musician to see him through. The battle is between Reilly and O'Donnell but they might cancel out each other's strengths and one of the two other candidates, Hayward or Pashinski, might make a breakthrough.